By Ryan Harrison
LIFE in Majorca for British pensioners has meant some are forced into “scratching for a living”, Age Concern said yesterday.
Once a much sort after retirement spot, the island is proving too expensive and many have had to return to Britain. Jude Reddy, Treasurer for Age Concern in Majorca, said: “Pensions for Britons have taken a real battering in recent years. All some get over here is 100 Euros a week.” “We think it's disgusting,” she added. A recent appeal from Age Concern asks for donations for the elderly on the island. An advert for the Hamper Appeal, which started at Christmas 2003, says: “many elderly people will be alone this year. With your help Age Concern can be their lifeline. Judy Arnold-Boakes, former Federation President for Age Concern España, said this is down to a number of different reasons. “Firstly, the British government's policy towards pensioners in Britain is not exported to Majorca. So they are entitled to different benefits than ex-pats over here.” “Before Spain joined the EU and the Euro many Britons took advantage of the strong pound, which is good for people on fixed-incomes. However, since European integration, a weaker pound has meant people are often forced to return to the UK,” she said. Majorca was a popular place for retiring Britons during the 60*s and 70*s. Many left Britain but failed to register with their local town hall in Majorca, so legally did not exist in either country. Kate Mentink, Calvia Counsellor for Tourism and Foreign Citizens, said yesterday: “Many people came to Majorca and didn't take out a residencia, so are not entitled to support from the UK or here.” “Calvia Council and the British Consulate are working to help these special cases. Although there are relatively few people in such a state, it is vital that they get help,” she added. Judy Arnold-Boakes, now a Patron for Age Concern España and Majorca resident for 24 years, said: “A lot of people do not do their homework before coming here. But the system doesn't help people in Majorca.” “What is needed is a complete overhaul of the UK pensions amd social security system for elderly people who have retired abroad,” she said. Many pensioners on the island are having to pay 1'500 to 2'000 Euros in health care costs a month. Judy added: “Although there are only 20 or 30 people scratching for an existence, there may be hundreds that we don't know about.” One of the main reasons for this is an increase in the cost of living in Spain. Kate Mentink, elected last June as a Calvia Counsellor, said: “The cost of living has gone up drastically. I would say five, maybe eight fold, since Britons first started coming here in the 60*s.” The latest appeal from Age Concern also emphasises that elderly people in need should come forward and ask for help, which for some is hard. Jude Reddy, in her fourth year as Treasurer for Age Concern, said: “Neighbours often ring because people won't ring themselves. Asking for help isn't British.”

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